A Conversation With My ‘They’

Dan Piraro at Bizarro: I successfully raised two children to adulthood who, until recently, I called my daughters. But in the past year, one of them has asked that I not refer to her with terms associated with females. She doesn’t feel that words like “her,” “ma’am,” or “daughter” describe her. In fact, she doesn’t think of herself as a woman and does not like to be referred to as “she.” Her pronouns are “they” and “them.”

I want to respect her their wishes, so I’ve asked how I should refer to her them. Their polite response was, “Call me your kid, your offspring, or just by my name.”

Was this confusing for me? Sure. Did it frighten, disturb, or alarm me? No. They (singular) are still the same person I raised; they’re simply sharing things about themself that have always been true but have gone unrecognized. Isn’t that a good thing?

Unless you’ve just awakened from a coma, you’re likely aware that a movement to bring gender identity issues into the spotlight in the U.S. has been gaining steam. I avoided the word “recently” in that sentence because the countless people who exist outside of social and religious prescriptions for sexual identity and orientation have been struggling to be recognized and included in society for centuries. Millions have been imprisoned, beaten, or killed for it. This is anything but a new issue, and anything but unimportant.

Given the description of my offspring in the first paragraph, you might imagine the person in question to be what some people might refer to as masculine or “butch.” Not at all. The offspring about whom I write is pretty, with big curly hair and a devastatingly charming smile—a person almost no one would spot as not being cisgender. Most people would consider this person a classically beautiful young woman. (But don’t call them that.)

More here.